ASUS Eee PC 1005HA Review — Much To Like in this All Day Netbook

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For the last six weeks or so, I’ve been using an ASUS Eee PC 1005HA netbook on loan direct from ASUS. This model is one of the top responses I hear to the question, “What’s the best netbook out there right now?” After my usage, I’m inclined to agree, although there are some other comparable models, like the Toshiba NB205 that I purchased. In fact, from a hardware perspective, there’s very little that’s different under the hood between the two devices. In situations like that, it generally comes down to personal preferences and little value-adds such as custom software. Let’s take a closer look at the 1005HA, so you understand what I mean.

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ASUS Netbook Roadmap — ION on the Way, No Pine Trail in 2009

asus-netbook-roadmap-2009Another unofficial indicator is telling me that Intel’s Pine Trail (s intc) platform won’t be seen in netbooks until January’s Consumer Electronics Show. An ASUS Eee PC roadmap is leaking through the web right now and there’s nary a Pine Trail mention on it. Couple that with last week’s plan from MSI to be the first with a Pine Trail netbook — they again mentioned CES for a potential launch announcement — and it’s pretty clear that the netbooks of 2009 are mainly of the N270 or N280 Atom kind.
That doesn’t mean the ASUS roadmap is boring by any means, however. If all goes to plan — and some of the devices are specifically tagged as in the “planning” stage — we’ll see several tiers of netbooks from ASUS: Good, Better, Best and Elite. Each internal tier is priced higher as you move up from the bottom, mainly because the netbooks increase in terms of size or  performance. The Eee PC 1101HA with its 11″ screen won’t be the big daddy after October. ASUS is planning the $499 1201N with the NVIDIA ION (s nvda) platform to power the 12″ display. Some other roadmap highlights from Netbooked:

  • The 1005HA-P (10.5 Hour Battery) model will get a higher capacity 250GB HDD along with Windows 7 Starter, when Windows 7 goes on sale in late October.
  • The 1005HA-M, as seen in Europe, will be launched with Windows 7 Starter. It has an Atom N270 processor. It has a matte display unlike the rest of the 1005HA models.
  • New 1008HA models: The 1008HA-P (Atom N280 processor, 320GB HDD, 2GB RAM, BT, 802.11n Wi-FI) priced at $480 and the 1008HA-M (Atom N280 processor, 250GB HDD, 1GB RAM, BT, 802.11n Wi-Fi) priced at $430.
  • Tablet netbooks: T91 has no change, but a T91MT (multitouch) will be released with 32GB RAM SSD with a price of $549. No release date set yet. T101P is mentioned, but nothing new we haven’t heard before: Next year with an Atom N450 processor, Pine Trail and Windows 7.

That last tidbit with the Atom N450 is interesting as that chip supports 64-bit computing, something I didn’t know about Pine Trail until now. I’m at a bit of loss for why a netbook chip would offer that because it’s highly unlikely it would benefit much in the near future. There might be a speed gain with a 64-bit operating system or apps, but support for RAM amounts greater than 4GB would likely be squandered. That is, assuming next year’s netbooks will still be limited by how much RAM they can physically support.

ASUS 1005HA Netbook Poses for the Camera

I mentioned earlier today that I needed to install the homebrew package tracker on my Palm Pre. Now you know why — an ASUS Eee PC 1005HA arrived today. ASUS was kind enough to loan me this netbook for a 30-day review period, so I have some time to really get to know it. For now, I simply unboxed it and took some photos. There are a few comparison pics of the 1005HA with my MSI Wind and Toshiba NB205. The first two devices take up exactly the same footprint and the 1005HA isn’t that much thinner. It’s more of a tapered thinness that is very apparent at the front of the device. Since I’ve been raving about the ginormous trackpad on the white NB205 netbook I bought, I have a head-to-head trackpad shot of that as well. In fact, the NB205 is actually pretty thin when compared to this 1005HA as well. Like the NB205, the 1005HA includes a 63Whr battery, which doesn’t stick out of the back of the device. Instead, it gently props it up from the back, making for a slightly more angled typing surface. Speaking of typing surfaces, I like the layout of the keyboard. I’m not sure I like the bigger keys as compared to the island style on the Toshiba, but all of the keys are in the right place. Well done, ASUS!
I’ll be giving this netbook a solid once over in the next few weeks, but for now, enjoy the peep show!

ASUS Eee PC 1101HA Available — $429

asus-eee-pc-1101haI’ve been waiting to see when the 11.6″ ASUS Eee PC 1101HA would hit the local scene and the wait is over. Thanks to one of our readers who left a comment this morning, I hit up BuyDig and found the “bigger than a breadbox” netbook for sale and in stock. At least it was in stock when I found it.
$429 is the going rate for this device running on the Intel Atom Z520 CPU (s intc). That 1.33GHz processor is little underpowered as compared to the N-series Atoms, but it should help in the battery life department. ASUS claims up to 11 hours of runtime with the Super Hybrid Engine and 63Whr battery.
Aside from the larger screen with 1366×768 resolution and Z-series Atom, most of the typical netbook guts are under the hood:

  • 1GB of RAM
  • 160GB hard drive
  • 1.3 megapixel web-cam
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • 3 x USB, 1 x RJ45, 1 x VGA, SD card reader with SDHC support

To me, the big selling point is the big screen in what’s still a relatively light package at 1.38 kilograms with the battery. Gaining size on the screen also allows for a larger keyboard as well. I chatted with an ASUS representative yesterday and have a loaner 1005HA on the way. Maybe I should see if they have any 1101HA units instead?

Active Media Offers SSD Upgrade Option for ASUS Eee PC Netbooks

sabertooth-ssdThere seems to be no end to the solid-state disk upgrade choices for netbooks these days. Every few weeks another vendor appears with speedy flash memory options. This week, it’s Active Media and its two MLC SabreTooth SSD lines for ASUS netbooks. Grrr…baby!

The SaberTooth S is more for those on a budget who don’t mind sacrificing a little speed. There are two flavors in the S line: 16 and 32GB. Both use a SATA-II interface and offer maximum reads and writes of 90 and 55 MBps, respectively. The SaberTooth SS option adds a 64GB option to the prior two choices. It also brings faster throughput of 155 and 100MBps for reads and writes. Of course, those faster speeds will cost you about 30 percent more. Here’s the MSRP rundown for the SaberTooth line:

  • 16GB S: $62.95
  • 32GB S: $96.95
  • 16GB SS: $82.95
  • 32GB SS: $124.95
  • 64GB SS: $219.95

Note that all throughput claims are for sequential data. When you get into random reads and writes, things are sure to slow down. All of these SSDs are tested and guaranteed to work with the Eee PC S101, 900, 900A and 901 models from ASUS. They should pop right in the mini-PCIe slot.

Given the many SSD options for netbooks, I’m curious how many ASUS netbook owners have made the leap from traditional magnetic hard drives to solid-state disk drives. Have you taken the plunge and was it worth it to you?

I Came Within an Inch of Ordering an ASUS Eee PC 1005HA Today

asus-eee-pc-1005haYup, I nearly replaced my MSI Wind netbook this morning. I noticed that ZipZoomFly was offering a stellar deal on the relatively new ASUS Eee PC 1005HA. They had a blue version of the netbook that’s advertised as offering 10.5 hours of battery life for $365.99. Note that the 1005HA comes in three different versions, each with a different battery. If you buy one and want the longest battery life, look for the PU1X model as that comes with a 63Whr battery. The other models are supplied with either a 48Whr or 23Whr power pack.

The ZipZoomFly deal got even sweeter with a 2GB RAM module for an additional $10. That’s a great deal, but in the end, common sense prevailed. I had some nudging from folks, nearly a dozen folks on Twitter as well — it was about 50-50 to buy or not to buy.

I wanted to get a feel for a netbook with approximately double the run time of my Wind. I also wanted to see how the new Intel Atom N280 (s intc) performed, but we’re only talking about a 0.06MHz clock cycle jump. The faster front-side bus might eke out a little more performance, though. In any case, I passed for now. The device is just too similar to what’s been out there for so long. Sure it’s in a nice thin and stylish case, but the minor differences didn’t justify the cost, since I have a capable device.

I did chat with ASUS today and inquired about the 1101HA, so I’m hoping to get a review unit. Had that netbook been available this morning, I probably would have pulled the trigger. I’m intrigued by the middle ground of the 1101HA. It offers an 11.6-inch display with the higher resolution of 1366×768 and runs on the Intel Atom Z-series. After using a 7-inch device and now a 10-inch one, I think that this size might be worth a look.

ASUS Eee PC 1005HA Exemplifies the Four “P’s” of Netbook Success

asus-eee-pc-1005haI know the ASUS Eee PC 1005HA is already available, but ASUS just sent me a promotional email on the device. The subject line is definitely eye-catching: “10.5 hours of unplugged freedom.” For over a year, debates have raged over why netbooks are so popular. Some say price, some say portability, but as I said yesterday, there’s a third “P”: power efficiency. Put these all together and you get a fourth “P”, as in “package.” To me, the success is really about the whole package a netbook provides:

  • Low pricing for usable computing, which means a good value.
  • Light in weight, making for portability and use in more places than larger devices
  • The ability to compute for at least eight hours or more, which I define as “all day” computing

ASUS appears to have positioned the Eee 1005HA just right, but 10.5 hours might be a bit boastful on the company’s part. Then again, it might not be: Liliputing already has a review up and has already seen at least eight hours with Wi-Fi on and screen brightness at 50 percent. With that kind of battery life, a weight of 2.8 pounds and online pricing as low as $389, another “P” is crying out to my temptations: purchase!

ASUS Eee PC T91 Now Shipping?

asus-eee-t91First spotted as a non-working prototype at CES in January, the ASUS Eee PC T91 might be shipping this week. Earlier this month, the convertible touchscreen Tablet PC/netbook appeared in the FCC database, which is generally indicative of product availability. Today, The Netbook Market caught wind of an EeeUser forum post that states shipments are starting today. ASUS has also added the T91 to their ever-growing Eee PC Comparison List as well.

The official listing shows the T91 with Microsoft Windows XP (s MSFT), but I’d expect Windows 7 to appear as an option due to the 8.9″ resistive display. The device only comes with a 16GB SSD option, but includes a 16GB “disk expander” SD card and 20GB of online storage from ASUS as well. ASUS figures the device should run for around five hours on the 28.5Wh battery paired with an Intel Atom Z520 (s INTC). It’s worth noting that the tablet includes 802.11n support like most of the newer Eee PC models and weighs only 2.12 pounds. That’s one light Tablet PC, perhaps the lightest convertible tablet yet!

Coffee Break- EEE PC “Best Laptop Ever!”

coffee_man_2I am working in the local coffee shop trying desperately to avoid doing any work get an important article finished and sitting next to me is a college kid with the original EEE PC, the 7-inch model. How does she like it?  “It’s the best laptop EVER!”

What she liked best about the little netbook she showed me when she was leaving. She tossed it in the outside pocket of her purse, which is very convenient.

Qualcomm In an ASUS Netbook Closer to Reality?

Image 3 for post First Qualcomm Snapdragon netbook concept is a tablet( 2008-12-05 18:26:53) I’ve been waiting for a real differentiator in the “me-too” netbook space for a while. In December, I pulled out my crystal ball (OK, it’s really a toy Magic 8 Ball) and saw a Qualcomm (s QCOM) netbook running Android. Today, DigiTimes says that ASUS is considering a netbook built on a Qualcomm platform. The devices would likely be branded under the Eee PC line, although the ARM CPU wouldn’t support Microsoft (s MSFT) Windows. I’d expect it be similar to the concept device that Qualcomm has already shown but with the traditional Eee PC styling. Maybe even a small clamshell design, akin to the Sony VAIO P, but smaller.

There’s two schools of thought here. One is comprised of folks that see netbooks as small notebooks that should run the same OS and apps as their larger counterparts. The other thought is that a netbook is a portable web and communications device. That’s where a device such as the one I’m envisioning comes to mind: notebook look-and-feel, but integrated voice and data communications components, light operating system and long-battery life. I agree with those that say Google’s (s GOOG) Android isn’t optimized for a device larger than a handset. I don’t expect Google to limit Android to a 3- or 4-inch display over the long haul, however. If we see that develop and ASUS does whip one of these up a Qualcomm-based netbook, I’ll be the first in line to try it.